AUBURN, Mass. – Auburn will be one of 10 area towns to vote in a special election on Thursday, Oct. 4, to decide whether the Southern Worcester County Regional Vocational School District can borrow $73 million for renovations and additions at the Bay Path Vocational Technical High School.
The special election for the Charlton school project is scheduled from noon to 8 p.m. at Auburn High School. The other towns to vote are Charlton, Dudley, North Brookfield, Oxford, Paxton, Rutland, Southbridge, Spencer and Webster.
“We’ll see if people show up to vote,” said Auburn Town Clerk Ellen Gaboury. “It didn’t lose by much in Auburn in the spring, and we’ll see how much of a turnout there is this time around. Evidently, Bay Path feels like they have a very good chance this time.”
The total cost is projected at $73.8 million, with a $46.5 million reimbursement from the Massachusetts School Building Association (MSBA).
Auburn’s share would be $3,589,631 for the work to add 50,000 square feet and renovate the 45-year-old school. It would mean an increase of about $60 per household in property taxes.
Supporters say that if the district doesn’t approve the project it will lose the financial assistance from the MSBA, which means the district towns would be 100 percent responsible for the cost. Proponents say they need to replace a 45-year-old roof, the heating and ventilation system, windows, and much more.
Opponents don't think the renovations and additions are necessary, and they don’t want to pay millions of dollars in taxes.
The measure doesn’t have to pass in every town to move forward, according to Gaboury; it needs a majority vote across the 10 towns.
“It could lose in Auburn, but if there is a majority in the district, then it will go forward,” Gaboury said.